Barnstaple Town 0-1 Bideford: Southern League match report

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BIDEFORD made it two from two in Evo-Stik League Southern against neighbours Barnstaple Town.

This Boxing Day clash was far from a classic, but Bideford showed their Division One South and West experience to limit their hosts going forward and secure a 1-0 victory.

Kai Fisher’s header in the 17th minute – his second goal of the season but first in the league – was enough to separate the teams in a North Devon derby played in front of almost 1,000 people.

Fisher had a superb game at the heart of the Robins defence, nullifying any half-chances dangerman Ryan Turner thought he may have.

That was evident with just 19 minutes remaining when Turner burst through on goal and thought he was in, only for Fisher to get back and slide the ball out for a corner.

By that point, Barnstaple were already a goal and a man down – following Lee Francis’s 13th-minute dismissal.

Francis had set the tone after 11 minutes when he went crunching into a tackle on Bideford’s Matt Bye – a challenge deemed worthy of a yellow card by referee Nicholas Mackenzie.

That card was brandished again just two minutes later when Francis bodychecked Bye off the ball. The Robins skipper may have made more of it than warranted, but there was no doubt it was a bookable offence. So, with 77 minutes to go, Barum were down to 10 and had a mountain to climb.

And just four minutes on from that sending-off, Bideford got themselves ahead.

Bye picked the ball up on the right and drilled a fine diagonal cross into the box. Fisher climbed higher than anyone in red and looped an excellent header over Steve Oliver and into the net.

Before that, Billy Tucker had come close when his effort in the box was blocked by Oliver’s legs and Bye curled over from Tucker’s pulled-back corner.

The visitors were dictating the play. Bye was excellent in a deep midfield position, alongside the vastly experienced Chris McPhee.

Barum tried to probe and press but their long balls up to Turner and James Blake were – nine times of 10 – coming straight back at them.

Liam Gregory had their first and only meaningful effort of the half after 22 minutes, but it was one their rugby counterparts behind Mill Road would have been proud of.

The hosts did seem to step it up a gear after the break but it was still Bideford who were carving open the clear-cut chances.

Oliver rushed off his line to deny Kevin Squire at his feet, Will Richards was denied down low by Oliver and Matt Andrew volleyed well over.

It was former Barnstaple man Tucker who could have killed the game off with seven minutes remaining.

When Craig Allan was adjudged to have manhandled Andrew 20 yards from goal, Tucker took responsibility but saw his free-kick cannon back off the bar.

Bideford goalkeeper Josh Colwill was mainly a spectator but he was nearly beaten in the dying moments when Allan almost snatched a point.

Jack Jenkins arrowed in a free-kick, captain Aaron Harper-Penman flicked on but Allan nodded wide at the near post.

And with that the derby spoils were lost – Fisher’s header erasing the 4-1 league cup drubbing Bideford suffered in November.

Barnstaple Town (4-4-2): Steve Oliver; Craig Allan, Aaron Harper-Penman, James Mayne, Scott Huxtable (Scott Sharp 77); Jed Harper-Penman (Steve Holland 82), Lee Francis, Jack Jenkins, Liam Gregory; James Blake (Shaun Copp 70), Ryan Turner. Subs not used: Kyle Paine, Ross Middleton.

Bideford (4-2-3-1): Josh Colwill; Ian Sampson, Kai Fisher, Chris McGrath, Steven Reed; Matt Bye, Chris McPhee; Billy Tucker (Dan Harrison 90), Matt Andrew, Will Richards; Kevin Squire (Ben Watson 80). Subs not used: Nick Barker, Dan Western.

Referee: Nicholas Mackenzie.

Attendance: 984.

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